The word Airbus probably brings to mind an image of a hefty airplane that flies you around the world. But this time around, Airbus has made a decidedly different kind of vehicle: a 3D printed motorcycle that looks like something straight out of Alien.
Called Light Rider—man, David Hasselhoff is probably pissed—the vehicle was created by Airbus subsidiary APWorks. It weighs in at just 77 pounds and is powered by a six kilowatt electric engine that helps it go from zero to 50 miles per hour in a few seconds.
The frame itself was made using a “selective 3D laser printing system” that melted minuscule aluminum alloy particles together. (This sounds a lot like laser sintering, a common method for 3D printing on an industrial scale.) The end product was a series of parts made up of a lot of extremely thin—as in 60 microns thin—layers.
And if it looks a little web-like, that’s intentional:
APWorks used an algorithm to develop the Light Rider’s optimized structure to keep weight at a minimum while ensuring the motorcycle’s frame was strong enough to handle the weight loads and stresses of everyday driving scenarios. The result: a motorcycle that looks more like an organic exoskeleton than a machine. That was a very deliberate design goal for APWorks, which programmed the algorithm to use bionic structures and natural growth processes and patterns as the basis for developing a strong but lightweight structure.
If you want to get your hands on your very own Light Rider, you’d better get in line—there are only 50 planned for production. They come in at the fairly steep price of $56,000 USD plus tax, but just think how cool you’ll look riding down the street on this thing.